Preferred seating

Get a better economy seat.

What is preferred seating?

Buying preferred seating.

A preferred seat is a regular United Economy seat that’s closer to the front of the plane. This will put you in the first few rows behind Economy Plus. Extra legroom is not included.

Earlier onboard service

Get food and drinks sooner.

Faster exit

Get off the plane more quickly.

Earn points

MileagePlus members can earn Premier points for buying preferred seats. Learn more

Anyone can buy preferred seating if they are taking a United or United Express flight. Prices vary based on the route.

You can buy preferred seating on or on our app . Choose a preferred seat on the seat map while buying your flight. If you already have your ticket, you can still choose preferred seats while managing your trip in My Trips .

MileagePlus members

MileagePlus members with Premier status can get preferred seating at no extra cost. Other members can earn Premier qualifying points (PQP) for buying preferred seating. Points are given after the trip.

Preferred seating FAQ

If i buy preferred seating, can i change my seats.

Yes. If the price of the new seat is equal to or less than the one you first booked, you can change your seat for free.

If the price of the new seat is more than the one you first booked, your old seat will be refunded once you buy your new seat.

Will I get a refund if my trip is canceled?

Yes, if you cancel your trip you’ll be refunded.

If we cancel your flight or there’s a schedule change, your preferred seating will be moved to your new flight for free. If preferred seating isn’t available on your new flight, you’ll be refunded.

What if I bought preferred seating but want to change my flight?

If you decide to change your flight, you’ll be refunded. If the ticket is partially used, only the value of unused preferred seating will be refunded.

What happens if I buy preferred seating and then get upgraded?

Preferred seating purchases for the upgraded flight will be refunded. Exclusions include:

  • If you move to a seat of similar or greater value
  • If there is a plane change or other operational issue

If I buy a preferred seat but don't get to sit in it, will I receive a refund?

Yes, you will be refunded after your departure.

What is the deadline to request a refund?

You must send a request within 90 days of your flight or buying preferred seating.

How long will it take to receive a refund?

Up to seven business days from the date when the refund is issued.

If you don't get a refund within one billing cycle, please contact your credit card company for information.

For all other forms of payment, please allow up to 20 days for a refund to be processed. If you don't see a refund within these times, you can submit a refund request .

As a Premier member, will I be able to select preferred seating when traveling on a Basic Economy ticket?

Premier members traveling on Basic Economy tickets will be required to purchase preferred seating and will not receive preferred seating benefits at no charge.

Can I earn Premier qualifying points (PQP) on my preferred seating purchase?

Yes, the traveler sitting in the purchased preferred seat is eligible to earn PQP upon completion of travel. PQP will be earned at a rate of 1 PQP for each U.S. dollar spent (excluding taxes and fees) or 1 PQP for every 100 MileagePlus miles redeemed for the preferred seat purchase. PQP are credited to the account of the member who travels, not necessarily the member who purchases the preferred seat. For more information, see our PQP Frequently Asked Questions.

Terms and conditions

Any customer-requested changes to a trip will remove your preferred seat reservation. You can buy or select preferred seating again, if available.

You can only buy preferred seating if there are available seats on your flight.

Preferred seating is only for United and United Express® flights.

Preferred seating is nonrefundable unless the ticket is canceled before your trip.

Refunds are automatic if the flight is cancelled.

Refunds are automatic if you must sit in a standard United Economy seat for your flight.

If you are eligible for a refund but haven't gotten one, make a request using the refund request form or by mail.

Complimentary access is excluded when traveling on Basic Economy tickets.

Basic Economy tickets are eligible to buy preferred seating.

MileagePlus members can earn Premier® qualifying points (PQP) on preferred seat one-time purchases upon completion of travel.

PQP will be earned at a rate of 1 PQP for each U.S. dollar spent (excluding taxes and fees) or 1 PQP for every 100 MileagePlus miles redeemed for the preferred seat purchase.

PQP from preferred seat one-time purchases are credited to the member who travels in preferred seating.

PQP earned from preferred seat purchases count toward earning all Premier status levels.

PQP earned from preferred seat purchases count towards earning incremental PlusPoints for eligible members.

PQP accrual on preferred seat purchases will be determined based upon the accrual structure in effect at the time of travel, not at the time that the seat is purchased, booked or reserved, or the time that retro-credit is requested.

The traveler must provide their MileagePlus number and have the flights posted to their account to earn PQP.

Offer subject to change without notice.

Understanding United Airlines’ Confusing Seat Category Names

While most airlines are happy to call the lowest class of service “Basic Economy,” once you get to anything above that, airline marketing departments get creative. The differing names lead to confusion when you’re looking at tickets and trying to compare prices. What makes it worse is when even the airline uses terms that don’t mean the same thing for all flights.

United Airlines is one of the worst offenders, as one of our readers discovered when looking for tickets to Germany.

Here’s the chart from United showing the different seat classes:

united airlines seat selection economy

  • United Polaris  –  In December 2016, United Polaris business class service replaced United BusinessFirst and United Global First service. United is finally done converting the seats on all its planes and is already planning updates to the seats installed at the beginning of the project.
  • United First  – This is the first-class product on flights within the US and Canada. This will be a seat in a first-class leather recliner.
  • United Business –  Available on United flights between the US and Latin America or the Caribbean. Very similar to domestic First.
  • Premium Transcontinental Service –  Available on flights between New York/Newark and LAX or SFO.
  • Premium Plus – Your seats are closer to the front of the plane, giving you more legroom, elbow room and room to recline. Each seat has its own power outlet and USB charger. You’ll also get free drinks (including alcohol), hot meals, snacks and desserts. Top it off with two free standard checked bags, Premier Access boarding and discounted United Club passes.
  • Economy Plus  – Extra legroom seats in the front of the Economy cabin ( Here’s our review of Economy Plus )
  • Economy –  Regular seat on the plane including seat selection and carry-on bag
  • Basic Economy –  Bare bones ticket. Don’t purchase unless you know   all the restrictions this ticket has .

Here are the pricing options when looking for a flight from Newark to Frankfurt on a 787-10:

united airlines seat selection economy

There are three types of Economy tickets, from the most restrictive basic economy to fully refundable tickets.

Premium Economy is actually United Premium Plus. While it’s listed on United’s website as part of the economy cabin, it’s different from an economy seat. You also see that the Business Class seat is listed as United Polaris Business.

So is Premium Plus like the extra legroom seats you’ll find on a domestic United flight?

Nope, it’s an entirely different class of service that falls between Polaris business class and Economy. You’ll have a seat that reclines and includes a leg rest. The seats are also wider, having a 2-3-2 configuration compared to the more cramped seating arrangements. It’s similar to a United domestic first-class seat. You also get free drinks, a hot meal and two free checked bags.

It’s what most international airlines call Premium Economy. US airlines had to invent a new name because they’ve been charging extra for “Premium” seats which are only economy seats with a few extra inches of legroom.

So where’s the Economy Plus fare, the economy seat with extra legroom?

You need to select Economy class and then you’ll get the option to “upgrade” your seat.

Admittedly, United can better explain the type of seat you’re buying during the booking process. Even the headers on the categories don’t match the names they use for the different products.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet for United’s long-haul international flights.

  • United Polaris – You’ll have a Lie-Flat business class pod seat. Includes Polaris Lounge access.
  • United Premium Plus – Large Recliner seat with meal & drink service. Similar to or slightly better than domestic first class.
  • United Economy Plus – Usual economy seat offering extra legroom.
  • United Economy – It’s economy class.
  • United Basic Economy – Same seat, more restrictions, less flexibility.

I hope this makes it easier to search for United seats!

*** Thanks to Chris L. for being the catalyst for this post!

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I booked a Business Class flight on United SFO to HNL in a Polaris seat for November 17. Now they changed the aircraft to a narrow body and they show me in First Class in a plain recliner seat like you describe as Premium Plus. Was this a switch-a-roo with no rebate?

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Not too confusing. Not like hotels whose rooms are Spectacular grade, Super duper grade, Boom wow grade. This comment is subject to moderation and delay in posting.

Someday, there will be more airline enhancements. Maybe basic economy will be called first class. Everything else will have a more grand name.

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United Airlines Seat Selection Policy, Seating Options & Fee

Yes, United Airlines lets you pick your seats. However, there are some seat selection policies that every passenger has to follow. These policies help the airlines to maintain a safe and smooth travel experience for all passengers.

Some of the most important policies are:

Passengers can select the seat in the same class where they have booked their ticket.

  • Passengers can choose the seat at the time of flight booking, after the booking, and at the check-in gate.
  • Senior citizens, and unaccompanied minors are advised to choose their seat at the airport check-in counter.
  • The airlines have all the right to change your seat at emergency exits if they find you unfit for the role.
  • Seat selection is not allowed after check-in.

How do I select a seat on United Airlines?

United Airlines seat selection process is easy and flexible. Passengers can select their seat anytime but before check-in. If you want to choose your seat on United Airlines, follow the mentioned process and get your favorite seat.

Select at the time of booking.

Passengers can select their seats at the time of booking their flight tickets. It is the best way to secure your seat with the airline and get your hands on your preferred seat. At the time of booking your flight, you will come across the add-ons section. There you can select your seat. In order to select your seat, go to Seat Selection and choose your seat. Then, click confirm and pay the seat selection and flight ticket fees.

United Airlines seat selection after booking.

Suppose you have booked your flight but need to select the seat. You can choose your seat even after you have booked your flight tickets. United Airlines seat selection is available till you check-in. 

The steps to follow to select the seat are:

  • Go to the official website of the airline.
  • Then, look for Manage My Trips, and choose My Trips. 
  • Fill in the confirmation number, last name and submit it.  
  • Select your flight, and then request seat selection.
  • Check the available seat and select your seat from the available options.
  • Pay the fee if there are any. Then, click on confirm. 
  • After some time, you will receive a confirmation mail regarding your successful seat booking. Cross-check the details and enjoy your trip.

Is there a fee to choose your seat on United?

Yes, there is a fee to choose your seat on United Airlines. Moreover, the charge for United Airlines seat selection is around $10. The charges for getting a seat on airlines rely on preferences, which is why the stated cost might also change. Furthermore, you could also claim a seat without any additional charges, but that provision is restricted to certain classes. 

How to get free seat selection on United? 

A seat on United Airlines can be bought in advance by paying an additional sum. But there are certain conditions available in the airline to seek a free seat. Further, you can refer to the information from the bottom points:-

  • A complimentary seat in the economy plus is levied to all premier member
  • Using a coupon code or redeeming a voucher
  • An upper-class fare can also choose a random seat.

What happens if you forget to select a seat on a flight after booking? 

United Airlines offers distinct seating options for a convenient and cozy traveling experience. Further, if you still need to pick a preferred seat by its closing window, then worry not because the airline could allot any random standard seats available in the cabin. However, when you are not comfortable with the assigned one, you can also request a change at the airport. 

Are United seat assignments refundable?

Yes, United Airlines seat assignments are refundable. But the flight ticket needs to be canceled before departure. Moreover, a refund request for a seat must be shared with airlines within 90 days of buying a seat. If you have bought a seat but didn't get to sit on it, you can obtain a refund after the departure of your flight. Although the request for a refund could be processed within seven days for a credit card holder, other forms can take 20 business days. 

Q1. What happens if I don't pick a seat on United? 

Suppose you still need to select your seat on a United Airlines flight. Then, the airline will assign free seats to you at the check-in counter.

Q2. Does United's basic economy allow seat selection?

United Airlines, basic economy class, allows you to select your seat. However, you should remember while choosing the seat that most seats are chargeable, and the charges vary.

Q3. How do I get free seat selection on United? 

There are a lot of free seats in an aircraft. At the time of booking your flight, you can view the seat map and select the seat, which is free of charge. Generally, the middle seats are free of cost. Also, you can ask the airline's staff at the check-in counter to allot you a free seat.

Q4. Why can't I pick or change a seat online for United Airlines Flights? 

You must have checked in if you need help to pick or change your seat on the United Airlines flight. Because once you check in and a boarding ticket gets assigned to you by the airline, you can't change your seat.                                                                                                           

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united airlines seat selection economy

  • Can you choose your seat on United Airlines?

Table of Contents

  • 1.1.1 Steps to Book Your Seat Online on United:-
  • 1.1.2 Steps to Book Your Seat offline On United:-
  • 1.1.3 Book Your Seat at the Airport on United:-
  • 1.2.1 Basic Economy Seats
  • 1.2.2 Economy (Flexible)
  • 1.2.3 Economy (Standard)
  • 1.2.4 Premium Plus
  • 1.2.5 Business
  • 1.2.6 Economy Plus
  • 1.3 An Overview of United Airlines Seat Selection Rules
  • 1.4 How Much does It Charge to Select a Seat on United Airlines?
  • 1.5.1 Upgrade With Miles Online:
  • 1.5.2 Upgrade At The Airport:
  • 1.6 Which United Seat Is Good for Traveling?
  • 1.7 Does United Allow Free Seat Selection?
  • 1.8.1 Can You Choose a Seat On United Basic Economy?
  • 1.9.1 Conclusion!
  • 1.9.2 People also Asked Questions:-
  • 1.9.3 Q. How much does United charge to pick your seat?
  • 1.9.4 Q. Does United assign seats automatically?
  • 1.9.5 Q. Can I select seats for United’s basic Economy?
  • 1.9.6 Q. Is it good to pay for a United seat selection?
  • 1.9.7 Q. Is the airline required to select your seat on United?

United Airlines Seat Selection: All You Need To Know Is Here!

When we think about travelling by air, getting a desired seat is a hope! But, United Airlines seat selection policy enables passengers to book their seats as per their requirements. Further, you can choose your desired seat while purchasing your flight tickets, through Manage Reservations after you are done wth your flight reservation, or during check-in.

Important Heading

Moreover, Passengers with special requirements may need to contact the airline and pay the charges accordingly. On this web page, you will find the essential information regarding seat selection on United. Similarly, you will also be able to learn the process of selecting your seat hassle-free.

How to Book a Seat on United Airlines?

Most travellers are searching about how to book a seat as the people are mostly not familiar with the United airline seat selection procedure. Additionally, when you book your flight tickets, you can select your seats. In addition to this, you can perform the online process through the main website, mobile app, or with the assistance of United Airlines.

Steps to Book Your Seat Online on United:-

  • Open the official website of United Airlines.
  • Then, input your credentials to log in to your account.
  • On the next page, you are required to choose a desired flight from the various available flight options.
  • After that, you must confirm your flight and select the “Continue to travel details” option.
  • You have to attach your passport and choose a seat, whether you want to get a window or aisle seat.
  • Here, you need to simply choose the “Continue to select seat” option.
  • After that, you will acquire a seat map in which you can pick your favourite seat and make the payment if needed.
  • Finally, you will obtain a seat confirmation email from the airline to your registered email address.

Steps to Book Your Seat offline On United:-

When the online way is not suitable for you to book your seat, then you can connect with the airline representatives. To do this, you need to find the United Airlines seat selection phone number 1-860-364-8556 and get help selecting your seats. The professionals at the airline help you in getting the best seat on the plane. However, you may pay the service fee at the end.

Book Your Seat at the Airport on United:-

If you do not select your seats while making a reservation, then you can make United Airlines online check-in seat selection when check-in starts. However, you might get fewer seats as most of the seats are reserved priorly. But, selecting a seat at the check-in enables you to avoid paying for a seat assignment.

Types of United Airlines Seats

When it comes to the category of seats, then you do not worry as the airline offers multiple seat options as per the passengers’ requirements. Moreover, passengers with United Airlines are allowed to select their desired seats. Here are the types of seats with their specialties:

Basic Economy Seats

  • Not a good option for Group seating.
  • Not available for upgrade.
  • Can select before boarding.
  • Changes or refunds are not possible.

Economy (Flexible)

  • Seat Selection is possible.
  • It can be changed.
  • A refundable fare.

Economy (Standard)

  • Seat selection is possible.

Premium Plus

  • It can be customized.
  • Provide complimentary food/beverages.
  • Offer spacious seating along with additional legroom.
  • Offer complimentary food and beverages with luxurious dining.
  • Provide spacious seating with additional legroom.

Economy Plus

  • It may offer a little additional legroom.
  • Placed near the front section of the plane.

An Overview of United Airlines Seat Selection Rules

Before selecting your seats on United, you must consider some rules made by the airline. Further, read the below points carefully:

  • United Airlines travellers are able to elect their desired seat during or after booking.
  • Moreover, this policy applies to all kinds of cabin classes and fare types, except Basic Economy.
  • According to the rules, you can also change your seat before the planned departure time.
  • Besides, travellers are also able to make United Airlines seat selection a basic economy while making reservations.
  • In addition, the chances are high to get a desired seat when you make a seat selection at the time of booking. To do this, you can go to the “Manage Reservation” option even while you check in for your flight.
  • Similarly, USA carriers, including United Airlines, allocate Basic Economy seats to the passengers automatically prior to boarding. However, you cannot change these seats once it is assigned to you.
  • Additionally, seat allocation is not guaranteed, irrespective of the type of ticket. Likewise, the airline can modify your seats anytime due to unwelcome events.
  • Also, the seats can be cancelled when you do not present at the check-in time till the deadline.
  • Besides, you can perform various ways to modify your seats. It can be done through airlines’ official websites, mobile applications, and travel agents.
  • If the option of United Airlines selects seats is not available, then you can check the departure time for unoccupied seats.
  • On the other hand, by using the “Manage Booking” option, passengers can easily make a seat change and apply for two seats together.

How Much does It Charge to Select a Seat on United Airlines?

  • When the seats are available, the airline will not charge any fee in order to make a seat selection.
  • Besides, you must pay $9 as United Airlines seat selection fee if you are willing to book a preferred seat on the plane.
  • Similarly, the airline charges $150 for the unaccompanied minor’s seat election.
  • In addition, the fee will be $125 for pets, such as cats, dogs, etc, in the cabin.
  • Also, you will have to pay $16 to $169 for an Economy plus upgrade.

How to Upgrade Seats In United Airlines?

Other than choosing a seat, you can also upgrade your seats from the lower class to the upper class to enjoy luxury and comfort while flying. In addition, there are two ways to upgrade your seats on United Airlines.

Upgrade With Miles Online:

Suppose you have earned miles in your mileage plus account. Then you are permitted to redeem them in order to upgrade your current seat. To upgrade your seats using miles, check out the below steps :

  • First, you need to log in to your mileage plus account.
  • Input all the required details, including your name, destination to/from departure, and also the return date.
  • Then, you have to choose your preferred flight fare and pay using the available miles.

Upgrade At The Airport:

Sometimes, travellers suddenly plan to make their seat upgrade right prior to their flight departure. So, to upgrade your United seat at the airport, you have to go to the airline counter at the airport and ask the agent if any seat in your desired cabin is available for seat upgradation.

Which United Seat Is Good for Traveling?

Does united allow free seat selection.

United Airlines’ free seat selection is not possible when you are not a loyalty program member. Similarly, you will get the airline’s service for travelling as high as your status. So, the same is for seat elections. Members of MileagePlus Premier can enjoy a complimentary seat in the Economy Plus cabin.

However, passengers with Basic Economy cannot select their seats. Besides, the membership makes you able to upgrade your seat to a higher class, including a premier cabin, for free or maybe a nominal amount. Therefore, you must be a member of United programs to enjoy a free seat assignment.

How do I Get a Free Seat on United?

Although seat allocation on United Airlines can be done by paying a fee, you are not needed to choose a seat. Moreover, you are allowed to skip the process of seat selection. After that, the airline will automatically assign you a seat for free. In addition, it may not be your desired seat (window, aisle, reclining, or extra legroom), but it will be free of cost.

Can You Choose a Seat On United Basic Economy?

Yes, passengers permit for United Airlines seat selection basic economy when they make it in advance. Similarly, you will acquire a seat before your boarding time from the airline. Then, it is not possible to change your assigned seat.

What Is the Preferred Seat On United?

Undoubtedly, choosing the basic Economy during your seat assignment is the best choice for your travelling. Besides, travellers cannot select their seats in the economy cabin. Besides, the seats are reclined and comfortable, which is suitable for luxury travelling.

Additionally, the airline staff at the airport will allocate you a seat in the Basic Economy Class. So, you have to share your preference regarding the seat with them, and they will allocate you the seat accordingly.


Hopefully, the above article will solve your queries regarding United Airines seat selection. For Additional clarification, you can connect with the Skycoair team at 1-860-364-8556, and the experts will guide you regarding any phase of seat elections.

People also Asked Questions:-

Q. does united let you select your seats.

Yes, you will be able to select your desired seats for all categories of classes except Basic Economy. So, you can only choose seats during flight reservations or check-in when holding a basic economy flight ticket. For more, visit the airline’s main site or dial a toll-free number.

Q. How much does United charge to pick your seat?

United Airlines does not ask to pay charges to the passengers when it comes to selecting a preferred seat. However, you can purchase a preferred seat by paying $9 for each passenger.

Q. Does United assign seats automatically?

Yes, the airline assigns the seats automatically before the boarding begins, and they cannot be changed. Besides, passengers travelling together or with their families will not sit together. So, advance seat selection is necessary while booking and until check-in starts.

Q. Can I select seats for United’s basic Economy?

No, travellers cannot select seats for basic Economy and cannot get a refund with these seats. However, you can enjoy Economy Plus features; the standard economy seats have additional legroom. Besides, the standard economy seats can be selected in advance, allowing a free carry-on. All these classes charge for checked bags for domestic flights.

Q. Is it good to pay for a United seat selection?

No, it is advised that not paying for a seat selection is a good decision. However, most airlines, including United Airlines, charge up to $10 to $30 per segment. So, do not pay for a seat assignment when booking your flights, whether you are booking your flight tickets with what airline.

Q. Is the airline required to select your seat on United?

Suppose an airline shows that you must pay additional charges to pick your desired seat, and you are never needed to choose a specific seat. Besides, it would be best if you opted for the option of declining seat selection so that the airline will automatically assign your seats during check-in.

Q. How To select a better seat without paying on United?

United Airlines seat selection policy is straightforward, especially when booking seats for Economy. Moreover, when you book a standard economy flight ticket, the airline permits you to select a seat in this cabin for free while making a flight reservation.

Q. What happens when you do not choose a seat on the plane?

Usually, passengers who do not have any specific requirements regarding seats skip the seat selection process to save money. However, you must ensure that ignoring the skip selection does not mean you will not obtain a seat on the plane. In addition, the airline will automatically assign them during check-in for free.

Q. How do basic economy ticket seats work on United Airlines?

The basic economy ticket with United Airlines is less expensive and offers various perks such as seat selection, free checked baggage, etc. Besides, the basic Economy and regular economy tickets offer nothing extra. Additionally, the airline will let you board last, and you may not bring a carry-on.

Q. How United assigns seats?

The ticket is allocated a specific seat at the airport while booking a flight. However, you will have a seat map to view the occupied seats and available seat options when you select a seat. Using this, you can easily pick a desired seat.

Q. Do I pick my seat when I check in?

No, you will likely be allocated a seat while check-in by the airline. So, you do not need to choose a seat when you check in, as you will get a free seat. Besides, you connect with the staff and share your seat preference with them so that they will assign you your desired seat.

Q. How do I select my seat before check-in?

You can select a seat at the time of reservation or can do it later with your PNR or booking number on the official website of the airline. Moreover, passengers can also select their seats by connecting to the customer service department or check-in counter at the airport.

Q. When should I pick my airline seat?

Travellers need to choose a desired seat as soon as possible during their reservation. This time, the chances are high to acquire the best or desired seat available. After that, you may not be able to get your favourite seat.

Q. Where can I buy a preferred United seat?

If you decide to make pre seat selection, it can be done through an online website, mobile application, by connecting to customer service, or directly at the airport. Through pre-assignment, you can easily get your favourite seat on the plane.

Q. Is it possible to change seat selection on United Airlines?

Yes, passengers are able to change their United Airlines seat selection after reservation. However, they may need to pay the applicable charges to the airline of the same. Or, they can speak to a live person at the airline to get help.

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United Airlines: Basic Economy vs. Economy vs. Economy Plus

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Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

United restricts full-sized carry-ons for its basic economy tickets.

Basic economy tickets are ineligible for refunds and don't include seat selection.

Economy Plus features standard economy seats with extra legroom.

Standard economy includes seat selection and a free carry-on.

All three economy classes charge for checked bags on domestic flights.

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the U.S., with a route network spanning the world. The airline offers multiple classes service to customers, several of which include the word "economy" in their name. Economy travelers will naturally be wondering what the differences are among United's basic economy , economy and Economy Plus classes — and whether those differences matter enough to pay more for a higher class of service.

The differences extend beyond legroom. Let’s take a look at the features of United economy brands, including seats, fare restrictions and checked baggage limits. If you’re still undecided, use our calculator below to help you decide whether an economy or basic economy ticket is best for you.

United fare classes: The differences

United Airlines has seven different classes of service:

United Polaris .

United First (domestic).

United Business (transcontinental domestic, Latin America and the Caribbean).

United Premium Plus (premium economy).

United Economy Plus.

United economy.

United basic economy .

Even though there are three classes with economy in the name, there are plenty of differences between them.

"Premium Plus" is also technically an economy class, but it is also entirely separate from Economy Plus. Premium Plus seats are in a separate section of the cabin and are offered on certain long-haul routes. The seats are larger, have a better recline and are similar to the types of seats found in domestic first class. Economy Plus, on the other hand, involves standard economy seats with additional legroom. See our comparison of Premium Plus and Economy Plus .

Here's a breakdown of key differences among the three "economy"-labeled fare classes:

» Learn more: United Premium Plus vs. Economy Plus: Does it make a difference?

Here’s a breakdown of some of the differences between United's three economy-level airfare offerings.

» Learn more: How to add United economy benefits to a basic economy ticket

If avoiding checked bag fees is important to you, several United credit cards offer free checked bag perks as part of their offerings.

Changes and cancellations

Along with other major U.S. airlines, United has permanently done away with change fees for most domestic tickets and international flights starting in the U.S.. While these tickets are generally still nonrefundable, if you cancel your ticket, you will receive a future flight credit that you can use to book flights at a later date.

Basic economy tickets, however, remain both nonrefundable and non-changeable. If your travel plans change, you won’t be able to recoup the costs of your flight.

united airlines seat selection economy

Does basic economy get a carry-on on United?

Unlike other major carriers that offer free carry-on baggage regardless of fare class, United does not allow carry-on bags that need to be stored overhead for basic economy fares, unless you’re flying to South America or are taking a transpacific or transatlantic flight. Both economy and Economy Plus passengers receive this benefit free of charge, but all three fare types will need to pay for checked baggage when flying domestically.

Basic economy ticket holders will be restricted to a single personal item (like a purse or small backpack) that fits under the seat in front of them. If the personal item doesn't meet the posted standards, it'll need to be checked, which means an additional baggage fee. Economy and Economy Plus flyers will be able to take a personal item and carry-on bag on the flight without any extra fees.

If you have elite status with United, an eligible MileagePlus credit card or Star Alliance Gold status, you are allowed to bring a free carry-on.

Later, we’ll talk more about options for free checked bags, including United elite status and United co-branded credit cards.

» Learn more: Delta vs. United: Which Is Better?

Is United’s basic economy worth it?

The low price of a basic economy fare is tempting, but the ticket price alone doesn't tell the whole story.

Use the calculator below to calculate the cost of your ticket with add-ons to determine whether the difference in price between basic economy and economy on United is worth it for you.

Keep in mind that upgrading to Economy Plus will only net you more legroom, guaranteed in-seat power access and a seat closer to the front of the plane; it will not get you an additional baggage allowance.

» Learn more: The NerdWallet guide to United's loyalty program, MileagePlus

What else you need to know

Points and miles nerds would be wise to use these tips on their next United economy class flight.

You can use credit card benefits to travel in basic economy

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card

Even if you’re booked in basic economy, holding a United Airlines credit card will upgrade your flying experience. All of the cards, with the exception of its no-fee credit card , offer at least one free checked bag for the cardholder and a companion.

In addition, most cardholders can expect free upgraded boarding and, depending on the card, access to the United Club lounge twice or more per year.

United’s credit cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule , which restricts how many credit cards you can open in any 24-month period. And although you can hold multiple United cards at once, most of these benefits won’t stack. For example, you'll only ever get one free checked bag on your flight, even if you have two separate United credit cards.

» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now

Perks await when you fly economy with elite status

Those who hold United Premier elite status , regardless of level, become automatically eligible for upgrades to Economy Plus (or the next highest cabin if the plane doesn't have Economy Plus seats) when they book in economy class or higher. Basic economy tickets do not qualify. Upgrades are confirmed in order of priority based on your elite status tier.

Even better, those with Premier Platinum or Premier 1K status (the two highest levels) will be able to select Economy Plus seats at booking for themselves and up to eight companions free of charge. Premier Gold and Premier Silver members (the lower-level tiers) can select these seats for free for themselves and one companion; Gold members can make their selection during booking, while Silver members have to wait until check-in.

Premier Platinum members and above will also receive an annual allowance of PlusPoints , which can be used to upgrade domestic or international flights. United elite members who also hold a co-branded United credit card will be eligible for complimentary premier upgrades on award tickets. Meanwhile, United elites without a United credit card will not receive a complimentary upgrade on award tickets.

In addition to upgrades, elite members are entitled to early boarding, regardless of ticket type; your boarding group will depend on your elite status level. United also offers a free drink and snack to Premier 1K members traveling in economy.

Finally, those with Premier Silver or higher status will receive at least one free checked bag on all United flights, even when flying basic economy.

» Learn more: The best airline elite status this year

Final thoughts on the different United economy fare classes

United has seven different fare classes, three of which include some version of regular economy seating. Of these, Economy Plus provides the most luxuries, with extra legroom and a generally better seat location.

Standard economy allows carry-on bags and complimentary seat selection, while basic economy, as the cheapest of the bunch, carries the most restrictions. Those seated in basic economy can expect limited baggage allowances, assigned seats and end-of-line boarding, although some of these can be offset by the perks of elite status or a United co-branded credit card.

Photo courtesy of United Airlines.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

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